Monday, February 27, 2006

Travels on a Sunday evening

Just back from Sunday evening at my sister's, and I thought: here I am, living ten minutes from my sister and her husband-to-be, only four hours from my parents, and perhaps ninety miles from the place to which my closest friend will soon move after several years far away, working at a lousy job which I still love in a city which, for all its faults, nevertheless has things of which no other city in the world can boast; and yet, here I am, thinking of packing it all up and moving to another city fifteen hundred miles away, because I have grown fond of that city through visiting it and the people I have known in it, who will soon no longer be there, but here, and because of the wanderlust: I have been here three years, and I feel the urge to move on.

And yet there is a sign in that city to which I may go, a green sign over the highway with the interstate shield and the name of yet another city on it. Beckoning.

And I wonder if, after a time in the new city, if the call of that other city will be too much and I will again pack up and move farther down that highway, away from all I have known and loved. And I wonder: what kind of a life is this, where we can do such things?

And what kind of a life is this where we do not?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Vi elske Danmark

Went to the Support Denmark rally at the Danish Embassy today, along with two to three hundred other people. Good crowd - people from left, right, and center; everyone from human rights workers to a wounded veteran of the Iraq war.

Who is a human rights worker in his own way, come to think of it.

We waved flags, held up our signs, ate Danishes, chanted slogans, and didn't worry about the cold. The media took pictures and did interviews and we mugged for the cameras and explained why we were there. I'm told there were even Danish media types present. Embassy personnel drove by from time to time and we waved and cheered and they waved back.

I have to tell you, I think this is one area where the left is superior. They're good at demonstrations. Then again, they've had a lot of practice. You could tell who the experienced demonstrators were - they were the ones trying to organize chants and come up with slogans. The rest of us...well, we're not used to such things. But we showed willing, and I think we did pretty well, considering.

We'll be better next time.

And yet I walked away wondering if we'd done any good. I hope we did. You demonstrate, you wave your flags and your signs, and then you go home, but the problem remains. How much good is a show of solidarity, really? In concrete terms?

Maybe not much, but I hope that we at least gave the Danes something to smile about today. Vi elske Danmark...we love Denmark. Stay strong.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Standing up for Denmark

My favorite leftist wants to know why Western governments aren't:

A small democratic country with an open society, a system of confessional pluralism, and a free press has been subjected to a fantastic, incredible, organized campaign of lies and hatred and violence, extending to one of the gravest imaginable breaches of international law and civility: the violation of diplomatic immunity. And nobody in authority can be found to state the obvious and the necessary—that we stand with the Danes against this defamation and blackmail and sabotage. Instead, all compassion and concern is apparently to be expended upon those who lit the powder trail, and who yell and scream for joy as the embassies of democracies are put to the torch in the capital cities of miserable, fly-blown dictatorships. Let's be sure we haven't hurt the vandals' feelings.

Hitch not being one to wait for people in authority to do something, however:

I wonder if anyone might feel like joining me in gathering outside the Danish Embassy in Washington, in a quiet and composed manner, to affirm some elementary friendship.

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, they would:

Thank you all who've written. Please be outside the Embassy of Denmark, 3200 Whitehaven Street (off Massachusetts Avenue) between noon and 1 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 24. Quietness and calm are the necessities, plus cheerful conversation. Danish flags are good, or posters reading "Stand By Denmark" and any variation on this theme (such as "Buy Carlsberg/ Havarti/ Lego") The response has been astonishing and I know that the Danes are appreciative. But they are an embassy and thus do not of course endorse or comment on any demonstration. Let us hope, however, to set a precedent for other cities and countries. Please pass on this message to friends and colleagues.

I've never been to a real live demonstration before. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Fun with small business

A conference call today as the Inner Columnist handled some advertising business:

Authorization Agent: [seriously] And what is your title, sir?

Inner Columnist: [cheerfully] Peon.

Ad Rep: [laughing hysterically]

Authorization Agent: [silence]

Ad Rep: [still laughing] Sales...he's in sales.

Inner Columnist: [helpfully] You can also put down "underling."

Authorization Agent: [still silent]

Ad Rep: [regaining control]

Inner Columnist: [grinning]

Authorization Agent: [unamused] Your confirmation number is...

Well, I was amused.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Winter is...

...hearing Sheryl Crow's "Soak Up The Sun" as you walk to the grocery store in gym shorts and sandals.

And you are. Never mind that it's 40 degrees outside. It's mostly sunny, baby. Soak it up.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


That's the phrase that I've been repeating in shouts and screams and whispers every thirty seconds or so since the game ended. "Holy crap, we won the freakin' Super Bowl!" when Hasselbeck threw incomplete on fourth down. When Coach Cowher got the Gatorade shower. When Mr. Rooney held the Lombardi Trophy. When, when, when...when everything.

I was at work when the Steelers beat the Colts in the playoffs. We - employees and customers alike - were gathered around the counter, listening to the game on the radio and watching the stats update on the computer, and I remember the Steelers sacking Peyton Manning twice, taking over on downs inside the Indy five-yard line, and Bettis fumbling, and Big Ben making The Tackle.

And now I can add Super Bowl memories, more ups and downs. Roethlisberger diving head-first for the touchdown that almost wasn't, and throwing an interception for a long return while deep in Seattle territory, resulting in an eventual Seattle touchdown instead of what might have been a game-icing Steeler TD. An earlier Seattle touchdown that was called back for offensive pass interference, with the Seahawks eventually getting just a field goal on the possession. Fast Willie Parker getting nothing going in the first half, and breaking loose for 75 yards and a score on the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Two missed field goals by the Seahawks. Antwaan Randle El taking a hit that looked like it might have broken him in half, and then throwing the long touchdown pass to Hines Ward. Ward himself with three big plays to spark the offense - the long run early, the huge reception on 3rd and 28 that set up Roethlisberger's touchdown run, and of course his touchdown catch. Hasselbeck's fumble that was overturned, and rightly so, but still frustrating because the defender only got a handful of jersey on the play. "Couldn't you whiff, just once!?" And The Bus, always The Bus, pounding out 43 tough yards on 14 carries in his last game. He wasn't the MVP, even though maybe he should have been despite the numbers, but no matter. He retires a Super Bowl champion, The Bus making his last stop where it all began, in Detroit.

I haven't felt like this since I was twelve years old, when I watched the beloved of my youth UNC Tarheels defeat Michigan to win the NCAA Tournament. I remember sitting on the arm of the couch in living room of the house I grew up in, all decked out in Carolina gear, afraid to move from that spot because my team was winning and I didn't want to jinx them by moving. I remember Chris Webber calling the timeout he didn't have, sealing the UNC victory, and I remember the final score. 77-71, Tarheels.

This wasn't quite like that, but it's the closest I've been to twelve years old since that night. Living and dying on every play.'s impossible for me to describe just how I feel. Yeah, it's just a game, but for some reason which I couldn't even begin to explain, this team means something to me. These Steelers...they're important. They spark a passion in me. I don't know why. They just do. Somehow, I feel a part of it all.

I haven't felt this way since I was twelve, and to truly feel like I'm a kid again at twice that's something special. I want to savor it because it's so special and so rare. You don't get many championships as a sports fan. I've waited thirteen years for my second one. Some never get any.

And I may never pass this way again.

And I know that I had absolutely nothing to do with the success or failure of this football team. But in this moment, in this place, in some small way, I too am a Super Bowl champion.

21-10, Pittsburgh. Holy crap. We won the freakin' Super Bowl.